Originally published by: Khira Isaacs | Western Slope Now
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Olathe is a small town you may know for its famous sweet corn – now, it may gain fame for something else. Region 10, the League for Economic Assistance and Planning just set its sights on Olathe to start up a powerful new center designed to attract and grow new business.
Our Khira Isaacs spoke with one of the directors behind this enterprising addition to Western Colorado.
“So, for us it’s around really building the regional economy, strengthening our regional economy, and having a program that just made sense,” says Deputy Director, Trish Thibodo.
Since 1972, the League for Economic Assistance and Planning (LEAP) has helped support and develop businesses in Delta, Montrose, Hinsdale, Gunnison, Ouray, and San Miguel counties.
“and this would allow us just to really focus those efforts and more excitingly we get to do it in Olathe which sits right between – you know, halfway between Delta and Montrose,” Thibodo continues.
With recent funding from the “Rural Innovation Stronger Economy” Grant, they purchased a building in the small town of Olathe to make their big dream of a new entrepreneurs center come true.
“We are really viewing it as a way to help diversify, make our economy resilient, support our local businesses, grow our local businesses,” continues Thibodo.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows small businesses accounted for 66% of employment growth over the past 25 years.
But the new center, complete with a commercial kitchen won’t just focus on food and agriculture — it’s a business incubator for all entrepreneurs.
“We’ll have some coworking space so that people have a professional space, access to high-speed internet, different resources, and opportunity to network and develop those relationships.” continues Thibodo.
Also leading the charge is former Lens Crafters Vice President and Brand Manager for Proctor and Gamble, Ann Bradford, who now lives in Cedaredge. The center should be ready and helping businesses grow by early next year.
“The fact that we can do this, a really exciting project in Olathe like that’s really cool stuff. That’s the stuff that you really grab on to – the fact that you’re able to impact communities and impact change,” says Thibodo.